Aldo Grazzi: Winter Garden, 19 Mar 2016 — 31 Jul 2016

Aldo Grazzi: Winter Garden

Caterina Tognon, Ca Nova di Palazzo Treves, Corte Barozzi, San Marco 2158, Venice, Italy

We find ourselves wandering through the touching “Winter Garden” that Aldo Grazzi has set up for us visitors, on our quest for that vital breath that only art can provide in this forsaken world. The small fragile sculptures of the garden are kept in glass display cases to protect them, but also to remind us of the traditional sumptuous “winter garden” made of greenhouses designed to shelter the most delicate plants that could never survive the harsh winter climate. The cases are to be read as essential components of the works, as concrete symbols of a space-time in which new forms germinate and need protection from the aggressions, negligence and bitter cold of our current civilization.

Aldo Grazzi’s “winter garden” is composed of flowers modelled in plaster, gauze, cloth and held together with animal glues, sustained by fragile stems made of various plant fragments. They spurt out of the plaster and glue of their vases, broken, exploded, distorted by time, dilapidated, trying to maintain a recognizable form. In their extremely elegant way, they allude to many imprints that art history has laid upon them, including that of Japanese ceramics.

An overall view of these 25 sculptures inevitably generates a reference to the controversial representation of “still life”. The artist must come to terms with this since he has declared that his sculptures are “reanimated lives”. That is what they are, but in order to understand the inventiveness of Aldo Grazzi’s research, one must recapitulate what has been done in the “still life” painting genre.

Aldo Grazzi, one of the most important Italian artists, has toppled the still-life genre through the miniaturisation of a garden (having found the fire within the matter): the cosmological mystery of life proceeds in a microcosm where life itself was never still but has revealed itself under a new form, recovered from hibernation, after a long latency, hidden from the distracted and destructive eye of humans who assumed it had vanished.

The new life has the fragile power of resurrection, of the many re-awakenings offered to those who are capable of perceiving them. The vases or ruins that had shielded the hidden seedlings could have eventually maimed the efflorescence of the vital force: but brilliantly, the cosmological light (Zurbaran’s silver plate) holds the vases (the cup full of water-spirit, feminine nourishment) who let themselves to be opened, broken, rebuilt, together with the flower-life they contain. Zurbaran’s eternally perfumed rose, a mystic flower in every culture, has been put in a new light and deposited in its sacred ground.

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Caterina Tognon, Ca Nova di Palazzo Treves, Corte Barozzi, San Marco 2158, Venice, Italy